Thursday, 17 March 2011

Gooseboy (Barker)

A.L. Barker is good at writing particularly original novels. John Brown's body which I read last month was extremely complex, and The gooseboy is no less original.

It's a book about twins; the male twin Bysshe (pronounced to rhyme with "fish") is a film star (although he has had to adopt a better name for the stage!) and is contemplating a new part as a doctor. His sister, Dulcie meanwhile is trying to retrieve her husband Pike, who has deserted her and headed to Nice with an adolescent girl, near where Bysshe lives. The gooseboy of the title lives on the farm where Bysshe lives when he is not acting, looking after the farm geese; he is characterised by extreme beauty coupled with extreme scarring.

The story is far too complicated to go into in any more detail than that, but it is actually a fairly short book (149p.); somehow Barker manages to weave all of these different elements together to create a clever tale that is extremely well written.

It's a book that I wouldn't have chosen to read were it not for the VMC challenge - a bit too literary for me, but it is great that such literary work is also on the VMC list.

It's been published just once by Virago with a modern green cover. I got my copy from my Awesome books haul a month or so ago...

(By the way, this and the rest of A.L. Barker's oeuvre have recently been reissued by Faber Finds)

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